RENTON — Apparently, the Seattle Seahawks’ varsity will be back up to strength next week.
Before heading off to Atlanta for Sunday’s game against the Falcons, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll spent much of Friday’s interview session being asked questions about injured players.
And in most cases — receiver Percy Harvin and offensive tackles Russell Okung and Breno Giacomini — the report is they’ll miss the game Sunday but be back at practice next Wednesday with a hopeful return the following Sunday at home against Minnesota.
And the two Seahawks suffering concussions versus Tampa Bay this past Sunday – center Max Unger and defensive end Red Bryant – will also be held out of the Atlanta game and be re-evaluated next week.
Lemuel Jeanpierre will start in Unger’s absence, as he did the other two games he missed.
Bryant had started all nine games at defensive end, and Sunday will be the first time this season the defense’s interior three (the 1-, 3- and 5-technique players) have not been Brandon Mebane, Tony McDaniel and Bryant.
Giacomini (knee) and Okung (toe) returned to practice this week, but Okung can’t be activated until next week in accordance with having been on the short-term injured reserve list.
Giacomini can return as soon as he’s deemed ready, and that, apparently, is getting close. Carroll acknowledged that Giacomini is close enough that he might be made active Sunday and held in reserve in case of other injuries.
Harvin has been the source of questioning for much of the season since undergoing hip surgery during training camp.
“Percy is the best he’s been,” Carroll said. “He’s not ready to play this week; he’ll return to practice hopefully next week and we’ll go one day at a time then.”
Harvin might be particularly eager to return for the game against the Vikings, the team with whom the Seahawks traded a first-round draft pick for his services in March.
“All of the signs are really encouraging,” Carroll said. “He’s feeling good and he’s not having any (soreness) issues after he works out. I think we’ve built up enough days here to take a real positive step. I don’t know what that means in terms of play next week, but we’re hoping he’ll be able to get some extra work and jump back into it.”
Jeanpierre filled in at center when Unger missed the Houston and Indianapolis games with a triceps injury.
“He’s done really well,” Carroll said of Jeanpierre. “Whenever he’s played for us in games, he’s come through. We feel like he’s another one of the starters going in there; we expect him to play really well.”
Protecting quarterback Russell Wilson has been an issue, as he was sacked a combined 10 times against Arizona and St. Louis. And although he wasn’t sacked by the Buccaneers, he was hit five times after he released the pass.
With Unger joining Okung and Giacomini on the sideline again in Atlanta, the challenge is even greater.
Offensive line coach Tom Cable pointed to the obvious this week: that a repeat performance is not acceptable. “They’re all grown men, and so there’s a sense of pride about you. And as a man, you don’t want to let your team down like we did the week before,” Cable said. “It’s just a start ... we have to play better this week.”
Okung and Giacomini had a positive return as they were eased back into practice this week, Carroll said. “Today, they practiced throughout, that’s a really good sign,” he said. “It feels like they’re able to handle the work and they have had no (physical) issues with it at all. Next week they’ll come back at full speed and it will be really exciting to get those guys back in there.”
If all three injured offensive linemen can return next week, it will be the first time since Week 2 the Seahawks will have their expected starting five.
“They’re dying to play,” Carroll said of Okung and Giacomini. “You can imagine. They had to sit there and watch so long they’re really worked up about it. We’ll go into next week with them practicing on Wednesday and if they can handle it they’ll play.”
Seattle — Out: FB Derrick Coleman (hamstring), C Max Unger (concussion), DT Jordan Hill (biceps), DE Red Bryant (concussion). Doubtful: T Breno Giacomini (knee). Questionable: S Jeron Johnson (hamstring). Probable: DE Chris Clemons (non-injury), RB Marshawn Lynch (knee), S Kam Chancellor (ankle). Atlanta — Questionable: T Sam Baker (knee), LB Stephen Nicholas (thigh), WR Roddy White (hamstring), DT Corey Peters (knee). Probable: DT Peria Jerry (toe).